A/N: I have to give a shout-out right now to wildwolffree17. I read a story of hers with this title from the song from George Strait. If I hadn't read her fic, I would never have known about the song.

A/N the 2nd: I have incorporated some parts from that Nor Fade Away E/O Challenge drabble I did for Indigo Night. And oh, yeah, I blame Phoebe for this. So there. Yeah that's real mature, but what can you do?

Summary: This is my take on the season finale tonight and the show's series finale. No spoilers, just the product of my own fevered imagination. There's Hurt!Dean, Remorseful!Dean, Guilty!Sam, and even some Castiel and Bobby thrown in.

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. This is for entertainment only, not for profit.


Dean dreams of Ruby most nights.

The taste of her mouth, the way she moved underneath him when he fucked her.

He saw her through new eyes. She went from a demon skank to his most loyal disciple, and they had quite a time together.

He was Dean Winchester and he was Shaitan then, and there was hardly any difference between the two of them anymore. Alastair had cleverly carved away all of Dean's defenses, hollowed him out, then seeded that space with a little piece of the Lightbearer that took hold and grew inside.

Later on Ruby ran off like a scalded dog when the wheel of the world turned against them. She ditched him, just like Dad did, just like Cassie and all the others.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


It's been two months since the end of the world, and Dean's getting better. Not 'better' as in 'normal-better'. Sam figures that ship has friggin' sailed already. Sailed off and sunk like the Titanic. Hello, iceberg. Good bye, Kate and Leo.

It hurts Sam to think of Dean saying that with his trademark smirk. It hurts, but it makes him feel better, too.

I'm the better hunter.

Dean's here, and Sam's not failing him again.

Boo hoo. You oughta stop moaning about hell, you know?

I'm stronger than you are.

Sam sits there by Dean's bedside, watches his brother twitch and jerk in his sleep.

Sam knows what Dean's seeing.

The faces of those kids he killed. Forty in all. Twenty girls and twenty boys, ages two to eleven. Ruby's knowing smirk as she stood by and watched Dean pull the life out of them with his bare hands.

And later, that priest who offered himself up to save the rest of his congregation.

It didn't work. Dean killed them all anyway.

That was just the beginning. The devil's hands were busy, and so were Dean's.

Dean's 'better' compared to the way he was before. Sam keeps him fed as best he can. The cabin's well stocked, but Dean's lost sixty pounds. His skin's way too pale; large dark circles pool deep and unforgiving underneath his dull, lifeless eyes. There's no way around it: Dean looks like hell.

Poetic irony is a mean-spirited bitch.

Dean doesn't always wake up screaming like he used to. He doesn't need to be tied down anymore, which is just as well. In the first month at the cabin he didn't say much, and when he did speak Sam didn't recognize any of the words. None of it made a dime's bit of difference anyway, because of the sigils on the floor below and on the ceiling above his bed. The knots were good and tight and the wooden bed frame was unnaturally sturdy.

Castiel knows a trick or two himself.


Sam sleeps whenever he can, and sometimes he forgets.

For the past six months it's been find Dean, stop Dean. Sam saw all the things Dean did, all the people he hurt and killed, effortlessly. His eyes aren't ruby red anymore. That terrible vibe Dean gave off, gleeful and murderous and dark, is gone.

Sam knows that. He sleeps when he can, and sometimes he forgets. There's still power left inside him.

And sometimes that power comes out.

The first time it happened was at night. The day hadn't been that bad. Dean was awake most of the time, but he didn't say much. He ate some of that homemade chili Ellen Harvelle brought around. Dean sat in that chair by the window and looked out at the world. His expression was curiously blank; his eyes were blank, but he held himself so tightly inside Sam knew he was screaming.

An hour later Sam fell asleep.

Twenty minutes after that he lashed out with his mind and broke every bone in Dean's left arm.

Dean sat there, his right arm lying bonelessly in his lap, and he didn't make a sound. He sat there and looked at the sharp bone fragments sticking up through his skin.

Payback, Dean thought to himself. I deserve this.

Alastair purred softly inside his head. "I wonder about you now, sweetness. Why you let your brother hurt you like that. You always let him do that to you, and do you want to know why?"

No.

"I'll tell you."

No…

Dean shuddered all over. He could still feel Alastair's blood-stained fingers brush lightly against his cheek. "You're built for this, you see. You're beautiful when you're in pain, Dean. Those broad shoulders of yours can carry the weight, and you do it gladly. You're perfect for this."

Alastair's fingernails left deep crescent shaped marks in Dean's hipbones. "You were my fertile ground," Alastair whispered. "The perfect flesh to nuture the Lightbringer."

They fall into a pattern after that, and Dean never lets on. Sam gets restless during his sleep sometimes.

Dean heals himself before Sam wakes up.

One night Sam dreams about the day he and Castiel finally brought Dean down. Dean feels a sharp, bright pain as the bones in his neck snap in two. He actually blacks out. He'd always thought that healing himself was a conscious decision, but his body apparently has other ideas. He's fully healed by the time Sam blinks himself awake.

It's just as well. Kid has enough guilt on his shoulders, and Dean won't let him take this on too.

But there's a part of Dean that feels, well, disappointed that he woke up alive in the first place.


Castiel seems a little more human nowadays. He was larger than life the first time Dean saw him. Now? He's still an angel of the Lord, of course, but somehow he just seems like a disheveled dude in a tan raincoat.

Dean called him Lieutenant Columbo once, before things went to hell and back. Castiel just blinked at him.

Now Dean sits staring out the window, at the rolling land around the cabin and the quiet isolation around them.

"The righteous man began it, and the righteous man ended it," the angel says quietly. "It was all part of the plan."

Dean turns and looks at him, then, just like he has many times before. Castiel frowns. He can't read Dean anymore, can't understand why this man has locked himself away inside self-hate and sorrow. During the final battle Dean turned against himself, and that was the only reason Sam and Castiel won.

"All those people I killed," Dean snarls, with heat in his voice. His green eyes brighten. "All those souls I ripped to shreds. Fuck you, and fuck the plan."

It's more emotion than Dean has ever shown in the past three months.

Castiel just nods. It's a start. A good one.


Sam dreams of Ruby most nights.

She's running now, from city to city, state to state. She jumps from body to body without much care, and her only thought is to put as much distance as she can between her and all things Winchester. She burns out her vessels this time, leaves them dead and dying.

Dean sleeps deeply that night, courtesy of one of Castiel's light mind-touches.

Sam catches up with Ruby at a sleazy motel outside Cincinnati, Ohio.

She's clothed as a young teenaged boy this time, dark-haired, blue-eyed, tall and awkward as a gangly colt. Ruby smiles as Sam puts one large hand underneath the boy's throat.

Sam's own grin is wicked sharp.

"I missed you, baby," Ruby purrs darkly. She actually tilts her chin up, leans into Sam's touch. "And you don't have the balls to do this."

She's wrong.


Some days are almost normal.

Almost.

It ain't all sunshine and roses.

Sam can still feel that engine purring along inside of him. Ruby and her damn blood only tweaked it, goosed the gas pedal, so to speak. Whatever this is, it was inside him all along. He can't ignore it, and he can't give it back.

He knows Dean feels the same way, watches one day as Dean levitates that heavy tool box from the Impala's trunk five feet off the ground without much thought. They're both off the reservation now. Maybe this is a new definition of what it's like to be human. Sam's not sure, and if Dean knows, he's not talking.

Sam's dreams these days are freer and easier. More calm, less screaming.

Sam's not sure he deserves this.

He knows Dean does.


Bobby always has this fond, vaguely surprised look on his face, whenever he comes around, like he's still amazed that all of them made it out in one piece. There's pride, and exasperation, and still some worry there too. He comes by four times a week to check on them; the other three days of the week Bobby just lurks. Dean can still sense him nearby, and it almost makes him smile when he remembers that Bobby once threatened to fill John Winchester's ornery hide full of bullshot.

A month later Dean starts fussing at Sam.

Well, bitching, to be exact. Dean bitches about the Impala. He goes out and changes her oil, tunes her engine up with the tools and supplies that Bobby brings in from Singer Salvage.

Dean bitches about that cereal in the weekly care packages from Ellen.

"Grape nuts? What the hell, Sam?" Dean vigorously shakes the box and sneers at it. Actually sneers. "Cat litter tastes better."

Sam smirks. "How would you know? Clay or clumping litter, Deanna? And I notice you weren't brave enough to complain about it to Ellen's face. Jerk."

"Bitch."

It's a good sign. A damn good one. If Dean has energy enough to bitch about anything that means he's worked through at least some of what happened. Sam doesn't expect to sit around the campfire, hold hands with him and sing Kumbaya. Dean's still as phobic about chick flick moments as he ever was. But that mischievous glint sparks up in Dean's eyes more. He plays the Impala's radio, he hums along. He still has that haunted look in his eyes some days, but it's softened.

One day Sam does dare to provoke the beast. Beautiful weather, bright sunshine. They lean against the porch railing and crack open a couple of beers. "Hey, kiddo, how you doing?"

" 'm okay." Dean very pointedly looks in the other direction before taking a swig, and when he swallows Dean stares down at the ground.

"Had a dream a while back," Dean says quietly. His smile is boyish, kind of shy. He tilts his head and looks directly at Sam. "Mom's with Dad."

Sam nods, and waits for it.

Dean huffs a laugh. "They both told me to lighten up, or else."

Sam smiles a little. "Gave you an order, huh?"

"Yep."

"Okay."

"Same thing goes for you too, Samantha,"

Sam's grin is genuine, the first real smile he's had in a long time. "Okay, Deanna."


A few days later Dean gets a call from Uncle Richard, Dad's brother. Something about a piece of property up in Indiana that some long lost, recently deceased relative gave to Dad, which means it's theirs now.

"Worth a look," Dean says breezily as he packs his duffel. "We can drive up there, check it out. My baby needs to stretch her legs. Nice road trip."

Sam nods.

They both know they're not coming back to the cabin.

Bobby gets a call, and Sam leaves the keys to the place in that fake brick near the front steps.

"This is it, Dean?" Sam stands there on the passenger side of the Impala. He's broken, but patched up again. They both are. "After…after all we did…we just walk away like this?"

"So what d'ya want, Sammy?" Dean opens the driver's side. He stands there, leans casually against the Impala's roof. "A lightning bolt from above? A tap on the head saying you were a very bad boy, and don't do that again?"

Sam wants more, but there isn't any.

Dean shrugs. "This is it, bro'. We live. Never thought we would, but we do, so it's a slow fade to the end credits, dude. Now get your ass in the car, Samantha."

So Sam does.

-30-

A/N: Well, that's it. I'll be over in my corner wibbling until the finale comes on. Thanks for reading! I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know what you think.